Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every chance I can, I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
- It’s the New York International Auto Show this week, which isn’t as splashy in terms of car announcements as other shows, but still a major event in terms of industry news. Expect to see a bunch of it on the site, especially as it relates to all of the self-driving, car sharing, and interior tech that the entire transportation industry is focused on right now.
- There’s already some news though: The Cadillac CT6 will be the first car with GM’s “hands-free” Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving tech, which goes head-to-head with Tesla’s Autopilot.
- And Ford’s newest police car is a hybrid, which should save a bunch of gas in fleets.
- Also, Nissan made a compact crossover Rogue concept with tank treads? Some things about auto shows never change.
- Speaking of interior tech, we have a new edition of Screendrive up: Lauren Goode reviewed a 2017 Jeep Compass with the new CarPlay and Android Auto-enabled version of UConnect. She says… it’s just fine. I have a 2014 Jeep with UConnect, and in three years FCA has managed to update the system with a capacitive touchscreen and CarPlay. And the new system isn’t even available in all of FCA’s vehicles yet.
- That is an absolutely poor rate of change — the best part of Screendrive so far is how revealing it is when you evaluate these systems at the same standards we expect from any other mobile tech.
- And CarPlay and Android Auto are just not that complete or reliable yet — if what we all want is for these systems to eventually completely take over the in-dash experience, they’re going to have to get a lot better.
TV PARTY GOES WRONG
- Vizio and LeEco called off their acquisition deal. The official press statement attributes the move to “regulatory headwinds” but I think it’s safe to interpret that as “LeEco running out of money.”
- This is probably a good thing for Vizio, which has always been successful due to aggressive technology decisions and quick execution. LeEco just seemed like a mess designed to slow things down.
- But the big question is whether Vizio goes back to its IPO plan, which was in large part predicated on creating a huge advertising network by tracking viewing data. (Which got the company in some trouble with the FTC.) Anyway, that whole system was turned off with the company’s new Google Cast-based TVs — will Vizio try to bring it back if it decides to IPO again, or pursue something else now? Or do nothing? We’ll see.
- (A cynic would note that a US company declining to sell itself to a Chinese company could probably get a nice sales boost if a certain president were to take credit for this move using a microblogging social platform of some kind.)
- Google is trying to get a display deal done with LG so it can source enough OLED panels to build phones. The company’s failure to produce enough Pixels has been really puzzling; it’s a great phone but it’s just really hard to get. Hopefully this clears it up for the future.
- I love this bonkers 13.3-inch Sony DPT-RP1 e-paper tablet. Yes, it has a terrible name, but it’s pushing towards the idea of “just a sheet of smart paper” from the opposite direction of tablets like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro. The only problem is that it’s $719. And probably only available in Japan. But I want one anyhow.
- Dan Seifert wrote about the Moto Z Play, noting that the combination of super-long battery life (all weekend!) and a couple useful Moto Mod add-ons has made it his favorite phone. The vehicle dock that auto-launches Android Auto is very clever, for instance. There’s a lot of hype around the new flagships, but it’s a strong case for better execution of the basics.
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is moving to keep cellphone calls banned on planes, which is probably the only thing he’s doing that’s completely uncontroversial.
- Something is happening between Jay Z and streaming services. His catalog disappeared from Apple Music and Spotify over the weekend, and is now back on Apple Music but not Spotify.
- Finally, I really, really want to play with Djay Pro on a Surface Studio. It just looks like so much fun.